After 10 fairly excruciating years in Boston, Clay Buchholz has been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for minor-leaguer Josh Tobias. This trade didn't shock anyone. The only part that surprised me was that Clay wasn't designated for assignment in July. For Pete's sake, the guy peaked in his second career start! Regardless, this leaves John Farrell in an awkward situation. With Buchholz vacating the 5th spot in the rotation, who's the next man up? It would appear that they can either go with Steven Wright or Drew Pomeranz. Here's what I believe the Red Sox will do:
I consider Drew Pomeranz to be the favorite for the 5th spot in the rotation for 3 reasons. First of all, there's the pride aspect. The Red Sox traded Anderson Espinoza, their top pitching prospect, for Drew Pomeranz during the 2016 All-Star break. Therefore, it's going to take a lot of courage from Dave Dombrowski to stand up in front of the fans and say that he traded such a highly regarded prospect for a long reliever. And to be frank, I don't think that Dombrowski has it in him.
Secondly, the Red Sox strongly preferred to trade Buchholz as opposed to Pomeranz this offseason. This leads me to believe that they think he can be a more productive starting pitcher. If this wasn't the case, wouldn't they have traded Pomeranz? It seems as though he would have more value based on his age and contract. Thus, it wouldn't make sense to keep Pomeranz if he wouldn't be starting.
Lastly, Drew Pomeranz profiles better as a starter than Steven Wright. Pomeranz has 3 effective pitches that any catcher can handle. Wright has 1 pitch that Blake Swihart and many others aren't capable of catching. So when you think in terms of risk, Pomeranz is the safer bet. Every time Steven Wright steps on the mound there's potential for a repeat of the Wakefield-Varitek dilemma in the 13th inning of Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS. Not to mention, when it starts to rain Wright is essentially useless. Wright's spots need to be picked and chosen based on the scenario and that's why he is better suited for the bullpen.
The major drawback to putting Drew Pomeranz in the 5 spot is that it would give the Sox 4 lefties in their rotation. In a division with some of the most fearsome right-handed hitters in the Majors, a lefty-dominated staff could be dangerous. But slotting Pomeranz in is probably the best course of action for the time being. So this is what John Farrell is most likely going to do. Either way, Clay Buchholz is finally gone, and we can all appreciate that.
Photo Credit: (CBS Boston)